I stumbled across a poem today while doing quite unrelated things. The title made me curious so I read it. Instantly my belly became fluttery, and at the same time I felt profoundly sad. I read it again.

Here is the poem. It is by Naomi Shahib Nye and is called How to Paint a Donkey.

She said the head was too large,
the hooves too small.

I could clean my paintbrush
but I couldn’t get rid of that voice.

While they watched,
I crumpled him,

let his blue body stain my hand,

I cried when he hit the can.

She smiled. I could try again.

Maybe this is what I unfold in the dark,
deciding for the rest of my life,

that donkey was just the right size.

Before I thought too much about it I went to my studio. A painting seemed the only way today to honor the truth in this poem. I read it again, grabbed my favorite color and a big brush and began. With a rebellious determination that surprised me I let my favorite colors flow and blend, my favorite shapes emerge and re-emerge. I brushed quickly, not stopping to think or perfect. Following the energy of ME, FREE, NOW. I painted until I didn’t want to anymore. I felt calm and full afterwards.

I painted the donkey the way I saw it.

Yet how many times have I done this before? How many times over the years have I dropped old “rules” grafted on by others or later by myself? How many times have I reimagined and recreated my spirituality, my self-expression, my physical being, my work, to more closely reflect my inner truth?

Each time the issue arises I am surprised that I am facing it again.

Perhaps it takes the courage from a lifetime of shedding alien and outmoded skin to more and more deeply trust one’s eccentric inner vision and freely express it.

Good thing it feels so SWEET after each outmoded layer is removed.

Here’s the painting. My body will remember this deeper freedom the next time I paint.


What rules or beliefs imposed on you by others have you been discarding? What rules or beliefs that long ago you created for yourself have you been discarding?

Blessings to us as we dare to spring forth!